When gang activity started to become a major issue in Orange County, Juan’s mother knew that the way to avoid her son being recruited to join was to put him in an after school program. Although Juan was initially rebellious, continued encouragement from the program director proved successful in coaxing his participation in the programs offered. By year’s end, Juan was eagerly and proactively signing up for activities and had established many great friendships. The peace of mind brought by the after school program and the nurturing environment it provided was invaluable to Juan’s mother, relieving her of stress and everyday worry of Juan’s wellbeing.
That’s the story that Jean Sweeney, Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at Children’s Bureau, shares as one of her most memorable moments while working for the nonprofit organization.
According to Sweeney, Children’s Bureau believes that all children deserve to grow up safe, nurtured and healthy. Through innovative and cutting-edge child welfare programs, Children’s Bureau has been saving children’s lives for 110 years. In Southern California, the organization provides support and care for over 28,000 children and parents per year. To make these life-changing programs possible, Children’s Bureau relies on the support of donors such as the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF).
IICF unites the insurance industry – a very competitive bunch – to give back and help those who need it most. Although a national organization, IICF works to make an impact at the local level, supporting nonprofits that address the needs of the local community. In the West, IICF provides grants to organizations making a difference in the areas of child abuse prevention, education, disaster preparedness, and health & human services. Children’s Bureau is a prime example of one such organization.
“With IICF’s support, we’ve served thousands of families,” Sweeney notes. “Children’s Bureau is very grateful for our partnership with IICF, and we look forward to future opportunities to work together.”
IICF engages the insurance industry to raise awareness, funds, and promote volunteerism. The Western Division’s Insuring the Children 2014 golf tournament, for example, raised over $100,000 to benefit child abuse prevention programs in Orange County. Funds raised through the event supported organizations including: Children’s Bureau; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County; Child Abuse Prevention Center of Orange County; Olive Crest; and Seneca, Orange County. These organizations – and the tournament itself – support the very programs changing the lives of thousands of kids, like Juan.
In addition to events, the IICF also promotes industry volunteerism through its Week of Giving. The Week of Giving program is an annual eight-day call to action that encourages insurance professionals to volunteer with local community nonprofits. The Week of Giving supports regional and national initiatives, such as “Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day,” an early literacy program developed by Sesame Workshop through a three-year, $750,000 grant from the IICF. During the 2014 Week of Giving, libraries all across the country hosted thousands of children for a day of fun, interactive reading and writing programs in the name of early literacy development.
When the “Every Day” program launched in 2013, IICF and Children’s Bureau partnered to host an interactive event for local kids (and adults!). The community event brought out 100 families to experience the educational website, make personalized books, and participate in literacy-themed craft projects. To this day, Children’s Bureau’s library and family enrichment programs in Los Angeles utilize the IICF and Sesame Workshop website and materials to encourage reading.
Organizations like Children’s Bureau are providing children like Juan a safe and nurturing environment. IICF works to rally the insurance industry to support organizations like Children’s Bureau. Working tougher, IICF, the insurance industry, and local nonprofits are helping communities and enriching lives.
Written by Melissa-Anne Duncan
Melissa-Anne serves as the Executive Director of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s Western Division. As Executive Director, her responsibilities include strategic planning, board development, fundraising, and division operations. Having joined IICF in 2010, Melissa-Anne previously held the position of Vice President of Development for the Western Division and continues to manage IICF’s national communications. (Click here for more.)